As expected, we’re left feeling empty, devoid of a “gotcha” moment, or retribution from the accused for contributing to baseball’s sins.
George Mitchell released his 400-plus page steroid in baseball tome this afternoon, and hours after we salivated over a false “leaked” list of guilty parties, we learned little more than baseball has a drug problem. We may not be here to talk about the past, but the Mitchell Report leaves us little other option.
The biggest bombshell is that Roger Clemens’ name is included, I suppose. That is, if you ignored the whole Jason Grimsley scenario of a year ago. Ricky Bones? Howie Clark? Chad Allen? Exavier “Nook” Logan? How will the game go on?
If anything, the biggest revelation that came from today from a local standpoint, Mo Vaughn excluded, may have been an e-mail from Red Sox GM Theo Epstein about Eric Gagne.
Here’s a portion of the report:
When the Boston Red Sox were considering acquiring Gagné, a Red Sox official made specific inquiries about Gagné's possible use of steroids.
In a November 1, 2006 email to a Red Sox scout, general manager Theo Epstein asked, "Have you done any digging on Gagne? I know the Dodgers think he was a steroid guy. Maybe so. What do you hear on his medical?" The scout, Mark Delpiano, responded, Some digging on Gagne and steroids IS the issue. Has had a checkered medical past throughout career including minor leagues.
Lacks the poise and commitment to stay healthy, maintain body and re invent self. What made him a tenacious closer was the max effort plus stuff . . . Mentality without the plus weapons and without steroid help probably creates a large risk in bounce back durability and ability to throw average while allowing the change- up to play as it once did . . . Personally, durability (or lack of) will follow Gagne . . .
More reaction from around the nation in the wake of the report:
Former Orioles slugger Brady Anderson, who was on the phony “leaked” list, didn’t end up in the official Mitchell Report. The Baltimore Sun’s Roch Kubatko writes:
Brady Anderson said he had no idea he was on the leaked list, which proved to be inaccurate. He was napping earlier in the day and said he didn't care about the report. When a friend joked that he was sure Anderson would be in it, Anderson replied: "I'm not and I'll give you 1000-1 odds."
He later found "condolence" messages from other friends who saw the leaked list.
Each time I remind Anderson that many people are convinced he was juiced when he hit 50 home runs, he always comes back with the same response:
"If that's true, why didn't I hit 50 the next year, or anytime after that? I guess all that money and fame got to be a burden, so I stopped. Or the next year I discovered they didn't really work."
Just for fun, faketeams.com compared names on the false list with ones actually in the report and found this morning’s list only 55.4 percent accurate.
Sports Illustrated’s Luis Fernando Llosa and L. Jon Wertheim hint that more names will indeed surface in the wake of the report: “While it's not hard to see why all concerned parties would like to view the Mitchell Report as both a coda and as a "vehicle for moving forward," as one MLB executive put it, the reality is far less tidy. Two ongoing criminal investigations -- BALCO and the Albany DA's prosecution of a wide-ranging Internet pharmacy pipeline -- are likely to reveal the names of additional players and distribution channels. In fact, sources close to the Albany investigation tell SI.com they believe the litany of names released on Thursday was ‘not at all a full and final’ compilation.”
The New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand takes a look at the Yankees listed in the report, but despite the presence of Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, and Chuck Knoblach, doesn’t feel it tarnishes the Yankee dynasty.
First, all of the players listed in the report will be considered guilty by the public, no matter what the report actually says. The details on Clemens are pretty damning, and he’s going to be one of the most scrutinized players going forward when it comes to this report. But Pettitte supposedly used HGH during a short time in 2002, with no other time period included in any evidence or testimony. Does that taint Pettitte’s entire career? It shouldn’t.
People will make up their own minds when it comes to these players. But what about the teams they played for? A look at the four Yankees title teams in the Joe Torre era show several players in this report on those rosters:
1996: Andy Pettitte
1998: Andy Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch, Mike Stanton, Darren Holmes
1999: Andy Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch, Roger Clemens, Mike Stanton, Jason Grimsley, Daniel Naulty
2000: Andy Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch, Roger Clemens, Mike Stanton, Jason Grimsley, David Justice, Jose Canseco, Glenallen Hill, Denny Neagle
That looks pretty bad. But is it? According to the report, Knoblauch’s first purchase of HGH came in 2001. That would mean he was clean during the title years. Same with Justice, who reportedly didn’t meet Kirk Radomski until after the 2000 World Series. Pettitte’s usage was in 2002, according to the report, while Hill’s purchase from Radomski came in 2001, after he had left the Yankees.
I know the Yankee-haters are going to scream that the title teams are now tainted. I don’t buy it. Will this cause me to look at Clemens’ career differently? Yes. Do I still think he belongs in the Hall of Fame? Yes.
Ryan Jaster of the Chicago Tribune says it’s time to exclude Sammy Sosa’s name -- which wasn’t included in the report -- from the steroid discussion: “Sure, his name is in there. Once. And it's only in a reference that he was among several players whose lawyers received questionnaires that were not returned. As is almost always the case with many of the allegations, the names of Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro and Gary Sheffield were listed alongside Sosa's. But they've all been linked directly to steroids in one way or another. Sosa hasn't.”
The Brewers aren’t yet commenting on the inclusion of new $10 million man Gagne. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “It has been asked by readers if he might try to void the new $10 million contract Gagne signed. I doubt that will happen because Gagne hasn't failed a drug test to my knowledge.”
Chris Reed of the San Diego Tribune wonders what sort of light Epstein will be shed in. “The conspiracy theorists are sure to say that George Mitchell's links to the Boston Red Sox explain why quite a few players with Yankees links are mentioned. But Mitchell included in his report an e-mail from Boston GM Theo Epstein speculating about Gagne's likely use of performance-enhancing drugs. Even though he thought Gagne was a cheat, Epstein later traded for him. Doesn't make wunderkind Theo look good at all.”
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Ray Ratto writes that Major League Baseball can’t police itself: “The news that 30 major league baseball teams, the people who run them, and the men and women who run the players union, never should have and can no longer be trusted to look after the drug problem. We knew this, of course. People have been saying that for years - baseball is too conflicted, the union too blinkered to do anything genuine or lasting about the issue. Neither Bud Selig nor Don Fehr took the recommendations seriously, because it was too important to them to keep their engines churning, and their positions entrenched. Two conflicted interests ran baseball's drug issue, and as a result, we have this - a Baseball Register of damaged legacies.”
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News writes that this report does nothing but help Bud Selig: “It paints him as a concerned if occasionally distracted administrator who is darned determined to fix everything now. That's just naive. It's fantasyland to clear Selig of anything.”
CNBC’s Darren Rovell, for one, is satisfied with the report. “Does this report hurt the business of baseball? Well, if all these years the sport managed to be as robust as it is today, how could it hurt? Remember, people who say they weren't satisfied tonight will still have their season tickets tomorrow.”
Which is, unfortunately, probably when the majority of us will forget about it all anyhow.